By Howard Campbell —
A play based on the life and music of Jacob Miller is among the events that will mark Inner Circle’s 50th anniversary next year.
The band’s co-founder Ian Lewis told the Jamaica Observer that the play opens in May at the Little Theatre in Kingston when Miller, who died in March 1980, would have turned 68.
The play will have two dates, followed the next day by a free concert at Emancipation Park, headlined by Inner Circle.
“We are blessed to be out there still actively touring. Once yuh working like dat, it keep di creative juices flowing,” he said.
Lewis, a bass player, co-founded Inner Circle in 1968 with his older brother Roger on rhythm guitar, Stephen “Cat” Coore on guitar, and keyboardist Michael “Ibo” Cooper.
They reaped from a purple patch during the 1970s when Miller led them on classics like Tenement Yard, Forward Ever, Backward Never, and Disciplined Child.
After Miller died in a motor vehicle accident in Kingston, the Lewis brothers settled in Miami, where they fashioned Inner Circle’s second coming in the early 1990s with the mega hits Bad Boys and Sweat.
Today they operate a successful recording studio in north Miami and tour tirelessly. Ian Lewis, 64, says while they are thankful for the success, losing Miller at the peak of his prowess still hurts 36 years later.
“That was a pitfall for us and dat’s a reason why this documentary is so important to us,” he said.
‘This documentary’ is a feature film tracing the band’s roots at Jamaica College to the Miller era and Miami years. A celebratory book is also in the making.
Roger Lewis, 66, and keyboardist Bernard “Touter” Harvey are the other survivors from the classic 1970s line-up. Guitarist Mick Sterling, singer Trevor Bonnick and drummer Lancelot Hall complete the current line-up.
Ian Lewis is excited about the band’s golden anniversary, especially the play which he is co-writing. While Miller’s songs will play a major role, he said it is not only about music.
“A lot of people feel dat when dem come to America is a bed of roses, but it’s not. Yuh have to get a education an’ work hard to mek it, an’ dat’s what wi trying to bring across.”